Madeira gets a makerspace and fabrication lab

September 16, 2016

by Lauren Roy, Educational Technology Specialist

A makerspace is whatever the community it resides in needs. It should have the capacity for growth and change. For the Madeira community, the establishment of both a makerspace and a fabrication lab means students and faculty will have the opportunity to expand and improve their knowledge acquisition, creativity, and critical thinking skills by means of experiential learning in an authentic environment. In non-educational jargon terms, that means we're going to get the chance to enhance how our students learn in ways that are real and relevant for both information acquisition and application.

That all sounds nice, but what does it really mean for Madeira students? It means that the Physics class can now rapid prototype their designs for protecting an egg dropped from two stories up in greater quality and speed with the two 3D printers in the fabrication lab. It means that art students are able to push the boundaries of technology engaged art in both form and function by means of circuitry and sewing. The Mathematics Department will now have new opportunities for bringing authentic, hands-on applications of subject matter content to the classroom. These new spaces will allow for the English and History Departments to delve into new ways to relate and integrate their subject matter with interdisciplinary content. Building a makerspace and fabrication lab here at Madeira allows students to push themselves as learners as well as creators.

The experiences and knowledge aren't only classroom-based. The makerspace and fabrication lab are open to all students regardless of the classes and clubs in which they are enrolled. There are several student organizations already making plans for utilizing these new spaces and resources. The Robotics club is planning an activity in the makerspace during each module to help new students and faculty begin to think about what making and tinkering look like in the 21st century. The Kilmer/Crafts club is examining ways to use the new equipment to help them better achieve their mission as a philanthropic club.

When building these spaces, Madeira looked at many, many other makerspace both in and out of educational institutions. Members of the Madeira community traveled, read, talked and researched all the various aspects regarding emerging technologies and creative spaces for students that would promote academic and creative rigor. What we created here is the result of the best available research-based practices, the generosity of donors, and the hard working collaboration of several departments.